Cedar Riverside festival draws national headliners

by Michelle Kibiger

For those who love music, food and fun, Sunday will be the day to head down to the Cedar Riverside community in Minneapolis and take in the sounds, sights and smells.
Organizers of the 13th annual Cedarfest, to run from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., are striving to make it bigger and better than last year. Musicians performing on nine stages, along with 70 food vendors, 200 arts and crafts vendors and a parade will entertain about 100,000 people.
This year, Radio K, the University radio station, will sponsor a stage inside the 400 Bar, featuring local music acts.
“We’re really glad that (the 400 Bar) gave us this opportunity,” said Ali Lozoff, marketing promotions director at Radio K. “I would love to see Cedarfest become the ‘South-by-Southwest’ for our area.” South-by-Southwest, a five-day music festival held annually in Austin, Texas, draws talent from across the country.
Cedarfest has traditionally focused on local music, but in recent years more national acts have been booked for the event. For example, this year’s headliners include Magna Pop, Lamont Cranston, Throwing Muses and Frank Black.
“A few years ago, Cedarfest was solely to showcase local bands,” Lozoff said. She said although the festival has gone increasingly national, it still does a good job of representing hometown music.
The Radio K stage features local bands Punch Drunk, Straw Dogs, Suspect Bill, National Dynamite and Dylan Hicks, as well as other acts. The music begins at 4 p.m. and ends at 12:15 a.m. The event is free, but 400 Bar customers must be at least 21 years old.
“It’s a good opportunity for bands to be seen and get their names out there,” said Kendal Masica from the Cedarfest office.
Lozoff said Cedarfest offers a wider range of music than other local festivals. Musical groups at Cedarfest will play reggae, rap, rock, pop, alternative, indigenous, blues and underground music.
Brad Jacobsen from the Five Corners Saloon, which is sponsoring the Rock/Blues Stage at the event, said variety was a key goal in booking bands.
“Typically we try to give a mixed venue here in terms of the various styles,” Jacobsen said. “We jump around to give everybody a little something to listen to.”
Jacobsen also said the West Bank has been a musically rich area. “It has always been kind of a nucleus for music in the Twin Cities,” he said.
In addition to music, there are a number of craft exhibits and family activities at Cedarfest.
Currie Park is the new home for the Cedarfest Family and Youth area. The area, organized by the Brian Coyle Community Center and sponsored by the Cedar Riverside Business Association, is intended to bring out families to enjoy the neighborhood.
Families can enjoy the carnival games, kiddie rides, clowns and stage acts geared especially toward young audiences.
The community parade, which will begin the celebration, is also a highlight of the event.
“I think it’s a good day for people to come to an area that they don’t normally frequent,” Lozoff said. She said the area is often maligned because of its somewhat dingy appearance and reputation for crime, but that it has a great variety of ethnic food and culture.
Overall, Masica said the festival is a good way to promote the area and for the community to come together.
“A lot of the residents and children come and participate and have a good time.”